Power Minister R K Singh Thursday asked state-owned energy producers like NTPC and DVC to secure more coal mines to augment electricity generation as thermal power will continue to be the base electricity provider in the country. The minister also assured incentives in the form of higher tariff for the thermal power generators for balancing the power supply after influx of more and more renewables in the electricity grid as the clean source of energy will not generate power round the clock.
"Thermal capacity is a constraint and we need to do something about it as NTPC. The NTPC, DVC (Damodar Valley Corporation) and all these (generating) companies will need to adapt to mining coal. I think that need to be set right. Your (generating companies) coal mining wing has to be strengthened," Singh said while addressing a conference "Power Plant Flexibility: Paving way for Green Grid" organised by NTPC.
These companies are required to operationalise all the mines they have and there is a need to get more mines. Currently, coal is an issue. There are so many plant which are idle because they do not have coal. So, coal is a constraint and that is another reason why renewables will increase. But renewables by itself are not itself sufficient, the power firms need to balance it. The balancing has be across the board, the minister added.
On giving incentives to the thermal power generator for balancing renewables, he said, "We will write to state government for flexibilization. We also need to incentivise it. So that when you (thermal generation units) are asked to come and balance it, the price paid should be somewhat higher. We will make it commercially viable for you".
About the state using hydro power as a base load he was of the view that hydro by itself will not be sufficient to balance renewables and the Centre need to pursue states using hdyro as base load to move away from that, like Punjab and Haryana. However, he said that it will be difficult to dissuade states from using hdyro as base load because they are getting power at 30 paisa per unit from those old plants.
The power is generally cheaper from old hydro as well as thermal power plants because their fixed costs are recovered during a stipulated period after which their tariff comes down. In case of hydro, it is just the maintenance cost as their no fuel used.
On the thermal compared to renewables, he said, the reality is that there is so much of demand growing that we dont have the energy to meet that. There is so much of suppressed demand. Once you connect every body, you won't have enough energy. Your (power generation) capacity is not sufficient".
The power demand is growing at 6.5 per cent and it may grow at rate of as high as 9 per cent with expansion of consumer base and per capita demand, the minister said. Singh also launched the national web portal e-registration of generating units for data base of all power units related to generation, transmission and distribution and trading to Central Electricity Authority.